by Michael Crider on
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If smart bulbs aren’t your thing (although we tend to love them), then smart light switches might be more up your alley. Here are the best in-wall smart light switches you should consider if you want to take your lighting game to the next level.
Why go with smart switches over smart bulbs? While smart bulbs are great—and a perfect fit for anyone who doesn’t want to or can’t mess with house wiring (like renters)—there’s one big downside: the action happens at the bulb and not at the switch. While you might remember to leave the switch alone, it’s possible your spouse, kids, or house guests will keep turning off your smart bulbs with the wall switch.
Instead, a smart switch uses similar smart features, but in a familiar format that anyone can easily understand. Plus, you can keep your existing bulbs and light fixtures. With that in mind, let’s dig into the things you should consider while shopping for smart switches, as well as go over our top picks.
When it comes to smart light switches, there are a few important things to keep in mind when shopping for one.
Firstly, you should know whether or not the smart light switch requires a neutral wire and whether the light switch box you’ll be installing it in has a neutral wire accessible. Regular light switches simply bypass the neutral wire, but in most homes, it’s still accessible. However, in older homes, it can be a hit or miss, so make sure you check, as most smart light switches require one.
Secondly, you’ll want to decide if your smart light switch can dim your lights or just act as a simple on/off switch with no dimming capabilities. Some smart light switches can do both, while others only turn on/off lights.
Lastly, how do you want your smart light switches to connect to your network? Normally, it comes down to a couple of options: Switches that connect directly to Wi-Fi, or connect to a smarthome hub using Z-Wave or ZigBee. However, some choices connect in other proprietary methods.
Once you have a good idea of what you’re looking for, here are some of the best smart light switches to buy, including several options for different methods of connectivity.
If you’re looking for the cream of the crop in smart light switches, look no further than Lutron’s Caseta line. Hell, they’re the ones that invented the dimmer switch in the first place.
Caseta devices use a proprietary RF wireless signal instead of Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, or ZigBee, so it won’t interfere or be interfered with by other smarthome devices. Yes, that does mean you need a proprietary hub, but it’s worth it once you start outfitting your entire house with Caseta switches—the different frequency really helps with reliability when you have all sorts of other devices across your home.
Furthermore, Caseta light switches don’t require a neutral wire, so they’ll work in older houses, and it makes installation easier overall.
There are several different kinds of switches to choose from, including dimmers or just straight-up on/off switches, and you can even get little remote controls to carry around the house with you or leave in convenient locations, allowing you to put the light switch wherever you want, it in a way.
The starter kit comes with the hub, a dimmer switch, and a remote. After that, you can buy more switches for around $50-$60 each, depending on which model.
If you already have a smarthome hub that supports Z-Wave and/or ZigBee, GE makes a handful of different light switches that use these two wireless protocols, but the In-Wall Smart Dimmer specifically is a great option.
It requires a neutral wire, so make sure your switch box has one accessible, but other than that you’re good to go. You can do all sorts of things, like create scenes, set schedules, and obviously dim your lights to whatever level you want. It has the capability to work in a three-way light switch setup if need be.
And depending on what smarthome hub you connect it to, it can integrate to any number of other smarthome platforms, like IFTTT, Alexa, Google Assistant, and more.
If you aren’t going to be installing a bunch of smart light switches in your house, you can get away with just a few if you want to go the Wi-Fi route. There are a lot to choose from, but the Eufy Smart Switch is our pick, simply because it’s so affordable.
With the Eufy switch, you can set timers and schedules, control it with Alexa or Google Assistant, and enable an Away Mode that randomizes your lights so that it looks like someone is home.
Unfortunately, it does require connecting to a neutral wire, and there’s no dimmer option available—just an on/off switch. If you want dimming capabilities out of a Wi-Fi light switch, both Belkin and Kasa make smart dimmer switches, although you’ll pay dearly for it.
While it’s not a light switch that just anyone would want in their house, the Ecobee Switch+ is at least worth a mention for those who want some extra bells and whistles.
The biggest selling point of the Switch+ is that it has Alexa built in. This doesn’t just mean that it supports Alexa and can be controlled using the voice assistant, but it literally can act as an Echo device, complete with a microphone and speaker.
The switch also has a motion sensor built in, so it can turn on and off your lights based on whether someone’s in the room or not. There’s also tech built in so that it can act as another temperature sensor for an Ecobee smart thermostat, but weirdly the company hasn’t flipped the switch (pun intended) on that yet.
At $100 and with a built-in microphone, it’s not a light switch that everyone will want, but if you’ve been in the market for both a smart light switch and an Echo, this might just fit the bill.
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